Sunday, May 24, 2009

Michigan Central Station

What an exciting photo outing this was, thank you so much Kiah for inviting me! Kiah's friends Brian and Ralph were great fun too - I loved talking photography and sharing ideas/comps. Oh, and Ralph you were a great model, we'll have to get some pics to your mom for ya LOL. I have to say that while I am generally a portrait photog, I absolutely LOVE taking pics just for the sake of taking pics, and what a golden opportunity for beautiful images in Michigan Central Station.

A grand, majestic old building scheduled for demolition, you walk in and your reaction (after an appropriately stunned silence) is a breathless "wow". The sheer expanse of the main room alone is breathtaking, and that is even before you look around and see the intricate stone and tile work. It's sad and depressing too, as the initial impact wears off and you realize the state of total decay this beautiful building is in - the regal columns and gorgeous architecture defaced with graffiti and crumbling concrete and tile.

It's easy to lose track of time exploring this building, around every corner was another room or expanse, always with something different if not more beautiful. I must say, some of the grafitti was pretty interesting as well LOL - gotta love urban humor.
According to wikipedia "The building is composed of two distinct parts: the train station itself and the 18-storey tower. The roof height is 230 feet (70 m)" Yes, we climbed the stairs to the top, stopping every couple of floors to take pics and look out the windows. The stairs had no railings (yikes), missing tiles and even holes/broken spots (FREAKIN yikes) and no glass in the windows on the landing of each stair floor (I can't type an expletive strong enough here). For someone afraid of heights (yes, me), it was somewhat of a nightmare to make the climb.

Good thing the boys humored me, though I'm sure Kiah will make fun of me later LOL. A lot of the floors looked the same, not as grand as the main floor and mostly with loose boards and nails covering the floors, and just the skeleton of the structure - support beams and such but not many walls/separate rooms outside of those on the outside structure of the building. There were heavy doors on a couple of the landings, but most of the doors were gone as well.
Every floor brought a more beautiful and clear view of the city of Detroit...and just when you thought it couldn't get any better, you get to the top. Tired and shaking legs do nothing to diminish the absolutely breathtaking view from the roof of MCS.

Temporarily forgetting (ok, ignoring) my fear of heights, I walked to the edge to get my pic taken with the D in the background. Kiah and Brian, get those pics to me, I need proof that I DID it! (And a printed record for my great grandchildren that I'm not quite as boring as my kids would lead you to believe.) We spent quite some time on the roof - taking pics, chatting, watching some teenage degenerates (or degenerate wannabes LOL) spray painting any open surface they could find, though I'm not sure how they were finding ANY. It was pretty windy up there compared to the ground floor and soooooo so high up and scary! Beautiful, but scary!

As the sun started to go down, we snapped a few more pics and decided that we wanted to start the decent to the bottom floor while it was still LIGHT out. I'm pretty sure it would have been an incredibly stunning sunset from the top of MCS, but not sure I would have survived (emotionally if not physically) walking down those stairs in the dark. Although the fears/concerns I had as the shoot started turned out to be unfounded on this trip. We didn't get arrested, and no one fell through a hole in the roof - though I'm still certain that it could have been a possibility because a piece of the structure DID fall down on Brian - no crackheads or bums to be found anywhere, the only other people in the building were other photographers, and LOTS of them. Some heading UP the stairs as we were heading down. I'm sure they were on their way to photograph the sunset from the top - they are braver souls than me. :-) If you'd like to read more about the history of Michigan Central Station, see the wiki page HERE. See a floor plan of the main floor HERE. I'll be updating this post and posting more pics as I get them, this was one of my most fun "non client" shoots to date - thanks again to Kiah for organizing this outing, Kiah you are the best tour guide in the D!


Trula said...

Tressie your pics of MCS are incredible!!! The sky in that first one is gorgeous. You're going to have to share how you did that with me some time. I was laughing and shaking in fear as I read your write up on the experience. I can't wait to see your pic on the roof! Way to go conquering your fear! I can not imagine making the descent in the dark those crazy photogs! I almost passed out when I read about holes in the stairs!
Gorgeous work my friend!

Anonymous said...


I love the way you approach a subject. Consistently creative as always.

I really enjoyed your images. Thank you for sharing your terrific work.

Rich Kee

Picture Perfect said...

What a great outing. I'm quite jealous!! Great to see this cool area through your lens.

Stephen R. Smith said...

What a great photographic journal of an amazing piece of architecture. I really hope that someone finds a way to restore the building so it can stand for future generations to look on it with the same care that you have.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much everyone, for the great comments - much appreciated!